With warmer weather comes worries about fleas and ticks for your pets. Dogs and cats can contract tapeworms from fleas, as well as be made miserable, and even ill. Ticks can spread Lyme disease to your dog, or even to you! Pest control is very important for any pet parent. In order to achieve lasting control of fleas and ticks, they must be eliminated from all their hiding places. You need to treat your pet, home, and yard all at same time. This will break the flea and tick life cycle, and keep your pets pest free all summer.
The focus today is on the yard and outdoor living spaces of your home. Fleas lay eggs in the grass to re-infest your pet, so it is important not to neglect this area. There are many methods and pet supplies for killing fleas and ticks in your yard. Whatever method you choose, you will want to focus your attention on two types of areas in the yard. First, identify any areas your dog spends a lot of time. These areas could be a kennel run, a doghouse, or just a favorite napping spot, as these areas are most likely to be infested. Also remember that sunlight kills flea eggs, so any areas in the yard that is mostly shade will need special attention.
Once you have identified the areas to treat, it is time to choose your treatment method. The main thing to decide is whether you will use chemical control, natural control, or both. Chemicals can be dangerous if applied incorrectly, but are very effective, and tend to be easier and less expensive than natural methods. Learning about your options will help you make the right choice for your family.
Chemical methods of control include sprays and powders. Sprays tend to come in a form that attaches to your garden hose. These are great for quickly covering a large area. You will need to make sure to really soak down all the problem areas once a week for a month. Most sprays contain a chemical that can be harmful to pets and children when newly applied, so keep them inside until it dries. Powders are more useful in smaller areas, like a doghouse. Sprinkle the area thoroughly. They tend to wash out after a rain, so they should be reapplied.
There are now many organic methods of outdoor pest control available. These have the benefit of being safer than most poisons. However, they tend to take longer to be effective than chemical flea and tick killers.
There are four commonly used organic control methods:
- Mow the grass:
Fleas and ticks like tall grass and weeds. Keeping your grass cut weekly to the lowest setting on your mower may eliminate ticks altogether and will go a long way in reducing fleas. Remember, sunlight kills fleas. Anything you can do to get sun to their hiding places on the ground is practically a free method of control.
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE):
A very fine powder made up of the exoskeletons of tiny sea creatures, it is harmless to larger animals (you can eat it!), but tiny sharp edges on its crystals cut up and dry out fleas and ticks. You can freely sprinkle it on your trouble spots and rub it on your pets, as well. It is even safe and effective on newborn puppies and kittens. DE can be a bit hard to find, but is often sold for use with aquarium filters. The type for fish tanks is the same thing and works well.
Microscopic worms that prey on flea larvae and eggs. If you inoculate your yard with them, they will multiply and kill any new pests. They often must be mail ordered and take some time to become established. These worms can provide years of control with only one application.
- Plants that fleas dislike:
Many plants have at least some insect repelling properties. Some of the most commonly recommended plants include: Pennyroyal, Eucalyptus, Cedar, and all Mints, including Catnip and Lavender. Mints especially are prolific plants that seem to thrive almost anywhere. Planting a few of these at the borders of your yard will keep the neighborhood fleas out. Cut sprigs placed in your kennel or doghouse have the same effect.
Whether you choose organic flea and tick control, chemicals, or a mixture, beat the pests in the yard before they come in, and the battle is half won. You’ll soon have a flea-free home and yard for you and your dog’s enjoyment.